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Cooking Diary of Chef Susan Ytterberg!  

Read, try, enjoy!  Cooking is fun and a great way to exercise your creativity and inner artiste- 

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Chef Susan Ytterberg- Over The Top Dinner Party

Posted on March 31, 2017 at 2:20 PM

When I'm planning a dinner party,  I try and think of dishes that are beautiful, high impact, definitely delicious- AND easy to make! I look for ideas from ingredients that are available locally or even better in my own pantry. I found some amazing balsamics which inspired my recipe for the crostini. Give these a try! They are sumptuous and perfect for a special occasion or holiday gathering. The main event which is the filet mignon is simple and delicious, requiring little preparation and winning happy compliments from your guests. Let’s get started!

Caramelized Maple Onion Crostini with Blue Cheese, Thyme and Cherry Balsamic Drizzle

1 Baguette, thinly sliced and toasted or grilled

1 Yellow Onion thinly sliced

2 tbsp Butter

1 tbsp Maple Balsamic

½ cup Blue Cheese Crumble

Thyme- a few sprigs, leaves removed and used for garnish

Cherry Balsamic- Drizzle ½ tsp on top of each crostini

1. Melt butter in sauté pan over medium heat. Add thinly sliced onions and the maple balsamic. Cook stirring occasionally until golden brown and caramelized. This can take 10 to 15 minutes depending upon the heat of your stove. Remove from stove and cool.

2. To assemble crostini, take slice of grilled baguette and top with about 2 tsp blue cheese- more if desired. Then drape a tablespoon of caramelized onions on top of blue cheese. Garnish with a few leaves of thyme and drizzle cherry balsamic on top.

3. Arrange prepared crostini on a small platter and serve.

Filet Mignon with Thyme and Garlic

Serve 4

4 individual filet mignon steaks, about 8 oz each in size. Before you are ready to start cooking, remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes.

4 tsp Olive Oil

1 tbsp pressed garlic


Salt and Pepper

1. Turn oven on to broil following your own oven’s instructions related to safety when broiling.

2. While your oven is heating, take each filet and lightly coat with a tsp of olive oil. Then rub a tsp of pressed garlic over the top of each. Then salt and pepper each filet.

3. Place filets on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick oil or Pam.

4. Place in oven and broil for 5 minutes. Then after 5 minutes, turn over and broil for 4 to 5 more minutes.

5. If you have a thermometer, insert sideways into beef after 8 or 9 minutes. You can buy one or $3.00 or so. Internal temperature is the best way to ensure your meat is cooked the way you like it. Basically 130 to 135 degrees is rare, 135 to 140 is medium rare. Keep in mind the theory of, “carry over” cooking. This means your meat when removed from the broiler is still very hot and will continue cooking until cooler. So if your thermometer reads 140 in the oven, by the time the meat cools it will have continued cooking outside the oven by another 5 degrees! That would mean you wanted medium rare but are ending up with medium. For example if you want rare, I would take it out of the oven when your thermometer reads 125 to 130 degrees.

6. Serve for small sprig of thyme on top of each filet as a pretty garnish.

Roast Asparagus 

1 large bunch of asparagus (plan for 6 to 8 spears per person)

EVOO to drizzle over asparagus

1 tbsp Herbs de Province

Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Line baking sheet with foil.

3. Trim ends off of asparagus and wash under cold water. Pat dry

4. Place asparagus on baking sheet uniformly with tips all facing the same direction. Drizzle EVOO over asparagus- about 1 to 2 tbsp.

5. Sprinkle the herbs, salt and pepper over the asaparagus.

6. Place in oven and roast for 15 minutes. Check after 15 minutes to see if it is cooked to your satisfaction. If it is too, “al dente”, cook another 5. You can check after 10 minutes if you want to if you like it less cooked.

7. Remove from oven and serve on platter or portion servings onto plates beside the Filet Mignon.


8 Small Cannolli Shells

1/2 cup Mascarpone

1 1/2 cups Ricotta Cheese

1 tbsp Amaretto or Bourbon

1/3 cup Powdered Sugar

1/4 cup chopped, shelled pistachios placed on a plate

1 large zip lock bag with one corner snipped 1/4" in from end

1. Place Ricotta, Mascarpone and Amaretto in bowl. Mix together well until combined. Add alcohol of choice and powdered sugar. Mix until incorporated.

2. Take whipped mixture and spoon into the plastic bag. Squeeze mixture to bottom but do not extrude yet.

3. With each cannolli shell, Squeeze mixture into shell on both sides until completely filled with the cream mixture, flush to the end of the shell.

4. Dip the end of each shell where the cream is at each end so the nuts stick to the cream and create a finished look.

5. Serve with coffee

Chef Susan Ytterberg: Cravings-Crunchy Chicken Tenders

Posted on March 28, 2017 at 11:20 AM


We all know what it’s like to crave food that is yummy, delicious, crunchy, satisfying. That’s what will happen once you try this menu; you are going to crave this but also know that overall, it’s good for you! Typically, my cravings are on par with wanting to eat a bag of Mint Milano cookies, or a pizza, but then I made this. The chicken fingers are coated with a home-made spice mixture of chili, garlic, brown sugar and salt, then dipped in a silky mustard, egg & yogurt coating and then rolled in a crunchy mixture of panko bread crumbs and sliced almonds. This sounds like a lot of work, but not really! You can easily put this recipe together in a half hour, bake it and then enjoy it! And it’s worth it! Like all my recipes, use them as a guide and if you want, go ahead and substitute your favorite spice mixture, or use different nuts!

Crunchy Chicken Tenders

Maple Sesame Glazed Roasted Carrots

Classic Mashed Potatoes

Chicken Tenders

Serves 4 to 6 

Preheat oven to 400°

2 packs chicken tenders- each contains about 6 per pack

1/3 cup olive oil

2 eggs

1 tbsp Greek yogurt

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tbsp ground ancho chili

2 tsp ground garlic

1 tsp salt

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1 cup sliced almonds

8 sprigs thyme

1. Clean chicken tenders, pat dry and set aside.

2. Create your spice mixture by blending together the brown sugar, chili, garlic and salt in a small bowl.

3. Whisk together the oil, eggs, yogurt, mustard and 2 tbsp of your spice mixture in a bowl until smooth and combined.

4. On a large plate, pour half your nuts and panko bread crumbs, 1 tbsp of spice mixture and mix together. You will use the second half of the nuts and panko and another 1 tbsp of spice mixture once the first is used up.

5. Place 6 chicken tenders in your egg mixture, then dip each tender into the nut/bread crumb mixture, pressing the tender into it gently so the crumbs and nuts adhere. Pick up coated tender and place on foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Continue until all 6 are done. You will most like have used up your nut/bread crumb mixture and the plate will probably be gummy. Rinse the plate, dry, and start again with the remaining nuts and bread crumbs. Repeat same process for remaining 6 chicken tenders.

6. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 35 minutes or until internal temp of chicken is 165°

7. Remove from heat, sprinkle thyme leaves over cooked chicken tenders. Use spatula to remove from pan and place on serving dish.

Maple Sesame Roasted Carrots

Preheat oven to 400°

8 to 12 carrots- peeled and cut into 2 to 3” pieces

1 tbsp EVOO

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp maple syrup

Salt and pepper

1. Place cut carrots on foil lined baking sheet

2. Pour olive oil, maple syrup and sesame oil over carrots, mix carrots into liquid mixture so coated. Sprinkle and salt and pepper and place in oven.

3. Bake for 30 minutes, remove from oven and serve.

Classic Mashed Potatoes

4 russet potatoes- peeled and cut into 8 pieces each

4 tbsp butter

1/3 cup of half & half

Salt and pepper


1. Steam or boil potatoes in pot on stove for 20 to 30 minutes until soft.

2. Place steamed potatoes in bowl, mash and add butter. Mix until butter is melted. Add cream and mix in. Add salt & pepper and mix. Taste and if you want to add additional butter or cream go for it!

3. Serve with the chicken fingers and roasted carrots.

Chef Susan Ytterberg- Fun Food Dining In

Posted on February 17, 2017 at 3:40 PM

Fun Food


Let’s make some recipes that are fun, easy and delicious! This isn’t formal dining, it’s a fun Saturday night and a creative way to cook. We’re going to start with Vodka Lemonade, while enjoying a flat bread topped with proscuitto and mixed greens that have been tossed with a lemon vinaigrette. For your main course, a crispy sage, butternut orzo mixed with goat cheese, hazelnuts and bacon salt which is ridiculously good. You can finish your meal with chocolate truffles or biscotti with your coffee.


Vodka Lemonade

Serves 4


6 oz Vodka

2 Cups Lemonade- your favorite brand

1 Lemon- use vegetable peeler to create 4 small strips of the yellow lemon peel for garnish


1. Measure out 1.5 oz Vodka per glass. Quanty is up to you if you would like less or more!

2. Pour ½ cup lemonade into the glass

3. Add Ice and stir

4. Top with lemon strip



Flat Bread with Prosciutto and Arugula

Serves 4


Preheat oven to 400 degrees


2 large squares of lavosh flat bread

Olive oil to brush on lavosh bread

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

4 cups arugula or spinach

Prosciutto-8 to 10 slices

Shaved Parmesan to top


1. Brush olive oil on lavosh bread and place on bread on baking pan. Put in oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes to allow bread to crisp a little. Remove from oven.


2. While bread is in oven, mix juice of 1 lemon with 2 tbsp of olive oil and ¼ tsp of dijon.


3. Toss the greens with the lemon dressing.


4. Place prosciutto slices any way you want on each of the flat breads. Place baking pan with breads back in oven for 5 to 8 minutes to finish crisping the bread and to crisp the prosciutto. Remove from oven


5. Top flat breads with the dressed greens and sprinkle tops with some shave Parmesan. Place on serving dishes. Use sharp knife to cut pieces and enjoy with your vodka lemonade!



Orzo with Butternut Squash and Crispy Sage

Preheat oven to 425 degrees


Step 1)

3 tbsp butter, browned.

½ lb Orzo- Cook orzo, drain and place in a mixing bowl, toss with browned butter. Set aside.


Step 2)

1 bag of butternut squash cubes or 1 whole butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed.

20 sage leaves

¼ cup EVOO

Cover a baking pan with foil and place your squash cubes and sage leaves on pan. Pour EVOO over these ingredients, toss to ensure everything is coated with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until squash is caramelized and sage is crisp. Remove from oven and pour everything from the baking pan into the bowl with the cooked orzo.


Step 3)

1 ball of goat cheese, cubed

½ cup hazelnuts, chopped

Add the cubed goat cheese and hazelnuts immediately to the warm bowl of orzo and roast vegetables, toss until well mixed and goat cheese is melting and blending in.


Step 4)

Sprinkle bacon salt or truffle salt over top, mix gently and serve. If you don’t have either, use Kosher salt and serve.


For dessert I recommend something very simple like truffles or a dark chocolate bar broken into pieces and served with coffee.


Chef Susan Ytterberg-Cooking with Whole Grains & Legumes

Posted on February 17, 2017 at 3:30 PM


 Hearty Farro Entrée Salad with Red Grapes, Green Onions, Celery, Walnuts & Blue Cheese Crumble with Orange Vinaigrette

 White Bean Rosemary Crostini



When I used to hear the words, “grain” or “legume”, I wanted to run in the other direction. Then I discovered just how delicious these ingredients are to eat, and also how easy it is to turn them into something very special!

Cooking farro is just like cooking rice, you’ll be amazed how easy it is and as an added bonus, farro is a good source of fiber, protein and iron! You can find farro in your supermarket in the same section where you find Quinoa and Rice. The farro salad is hearty, satisfying, tasty and something you’ll want to eat the next day and like just as much. The white bean crostini are a crunchy, savory accompaniment to your farro salad and I don’t think you’ll be able to just have two!


Farro Salad:

1 cup farro

2 cups water

½ tsp salt


Place the farro, salt and water in a pot and bring water to a boil. Then cover and turn the heat to low and allow to cook for 25 minutes. Check after 15 minutes, give it a stir then continue cooking. After 25 minutes remove lid and see if water is absorbed. If there is a little water in the bottom of the pot, keep the farro on the stove with lid off for a few more minutes to allow water to cook into farro. Remove from heat, stir and set aside.


Farro Salad Ingredients:

1 cup red grapes cut in half. Measure after grapes are cut. Add more if you want!

½ cup chopped walnuts

3 green onions, chopped

1-1 ½ stalks celery, finely chopped

½ cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper


Farro Salad Citrus Dressing:

¼ cup orange juice

Juice of half a lemon

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp agave

Pinch of salt


Blend dressing.


Put cooked farro into a bowl and add the salad ingredients. Stir together until incorporated. Then pour half of the salad dressing over salad and stir until well mixed. Then add more dressing until you have the right amount preferred on your salad.

(Remember it’s easier to add more dressing if needed, but impossible to subtract!)


White Bean Rosemary Crostini:

1 Baguette, sliced and toasted


1 can white cannellini beans (Rinsed in water and drained)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¾ tsp finely chopped rosemary

¾ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper


Start by draining your beans in a colander and running water over them until cleaned of the canning fluid. Then begin by measuring out ¼ cup of beans. Set the ¼ cup of beans aside; you will mix them into the white bean spread at the end.


In a food processor, add the remaining bean, and the evoo, rosemary, salt and pepper and process until smooth. Taste and if you are happy with the seasoning and consistency you are done. If you want to add more of any of the above ingredients, or want to add a tbsp. of water to thin it go ahead.


Transfer your processed bean mixture to a bowl. Fold in the reserved ¼ cup of whole beans. Spread onto crostini and serve.


Chef Susan's Fish Tacos

Posted on September 3, 2016 at 2:40 PM

Chef Susan Ytterberg's Fish Tacos

Make use of Florida’s bounty! Imagine fresh, line-caught fish, grilled; then building the ultimate taco with roasted Salsa, freshly made guacamole, shredded cabbage, green onions and cojito cheese topped off with a lime wedge!

What’s fun about this meal is how quickly it comes together, and how fun it is to eat. You’ll grill your fish, mash your guac, and roast your veggies for a great salsa. Then the fun begins when you put your tacos together. Place your ingredients in colorful bowls and assemble them buffet style on the table for everyone to create their own taco.

No taco would be complete without the extras so be sure to have extra shredded cabbage, lime wedges, corn tortillas or taco shells, chopped green onions & cojito or cheddar cheese for your taco buffet!

Serves 4

*Preheat Grill to 400°

Note: Hey, if you don’t have an outdoor grill, no worries! Don’t let that stop you from making these awesome tacos! Use your indoor grill pan on the stove to cook your fish or if you have a George Foreman Electric Grill, that works wonders too.

1.5 lbs. Fresh, line-caught fish- Tilapia, Cod, Halibut or any favorite

1 tsp ground red chili or paprika

¼ tsp Kosher salt

2 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 2 limes


1) Rinse fish and pat dry. Place in bowl and squeeze lime juice over fish and spread olive oil over fish as well.

2) Sprinkle salt and chili or paprika on top. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes

3) Grill 6 minutes per side or until cooked through. Remove from heat and place on service platter for guests to portion out for their tacos.


Serves 4

3 ripe avocados

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 large chopped tomato

¼ cup chopped onions

1 jalapeno finely chopped, seeds & white membrane removed

1/8 tsp ground white pepper

½ tsp salt


1) Cut avocados in half and remove pit. Then using a spoon, scoop out the avocado from the skin and place in bowl. Mash with fork til fairly smooth with just a few lumps.

2) Add all remaining ingredients and mix together. Serve with tacos

Fresh Salsa

Serves 4

3 tomatoes, quartered and roughly chopped

2 tomatillos, quartered chopped

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 jalapeno finely chopped, seeds & white membrane removed

1 garlic clove minced

2 tbsp EVOO

Salt & Pepper

1) Place all chopped ingredients in a bowl and mix.

2) place salsa in bowl to enjoy with tacos.